From Ice Cube Trays to Spatulas, Here's How to Get Smells Out of All of Your Silicone Kitchenware
Silicone kitchenware has many positives—it's nonstick, dishwasher-safe, malleable for convenient storing, and can withstand very cold and very hot temperatures. However, if you've ever used a silicone-based product, you likely know how easily odors seem to cling to the material after just a few uses. Silicone baking sheets and spatulas absorb pungent smells like garlic and onion while ice cube trays begin to take on the scent of the back of a freezer. "Removing scents from silicone is a tough job to tackle and will most likely take time," says Vera Peterson, president of the cleaning service Molly Maid, a Neighborly company. Although it'll take you more than a routine rinse in the dishwasher or sink to get stubborn odors out of silicone, it can be done. We tapped experts for their tips on how the best ways to get smells out of silicone kitchen products, from ice cube trays and spatulas to baking sheets and beyond.
Read Manufacturer's Instructions
Although experts have their own tricks for removing smells from silicone, they recommend starting by reading the instructions on the product you want to clean. "For some items hand washing is recommended, others allow dishwashing, sometimes with the top rack specified," explains Mary Gagliardi, in-house scientist and cleaning expert at Clorox. She also says to read labels on all products before using them to clean your silicone kitchenware. "Using the proper dilution, following the recommended contact time, and rinsing as directed all help you use a product safely and ensure that it will perform as promised," she adds.
Use Soap and Hot Water
Experts agree that using soap and hot water to get odors out of silicone is one of the best and safest methods for getting the job done. Peterson says you'll need rubber gloves, dishwasher detergent, a non-abrasive sponge, and a microfiber cloth for this process. Start by putting on a pair of gloves to keep your hands free of grease and oil. Next, fill your sink with hot water and a few drops of detergent. "The hotter the water, the better," Peterson notes. "Hot water can cut through tough messes. Just be careful not to make the water so hot that you'll burn yourself." Let the kitchenware sit for anywhere between 20 minutes and one hour depending on how pungent the smells are. After soaking, scrub with a nonabrasive sponge and rinse in hot water, then dry with a microfiber cloth.
To go the extra mile, Gagliardi likes to make a mixture of two teaspoons of bleach and two gallons of water and let the items soak in it for two minutes before rinsing. If one round of this method doesn't work, repeat as necessary. Peterson says it's better to stick to one method and give it multiple attempts rather than try a variety of different techniques. "If after so many attempts, the scent doesn't seem to let up, it may be time to accept defeat and deal with the smell or replace the product," the cleaning expert says.
If hot, soapy water isn't enough to remove smells from silicone, there are a few other methods you can try. Becky Rapinchuk, cleaning expert and owner of CleanMama.com, says to preheat your oven to 350 degrees then bake your silicone products for 10 to 15 minutes. Once cooled, wash with soap and warm water. Alternatively, Peterson recommends boiling your products in water for several minutes and then allowing them to air dry completely before putting them away. Peterson notes that when following these methods, it's important to keep in mind how much silicone your products are made of. "One hundred percent silicone products are capable of withstanding high temperatures, whereas anything less is susceptible to damage." If you're working with a product that's not pure silicone, Peterson says to use "less evasive and lower temperature cleaning methods like soaking the product in soap and hot water or white vinegar and water."
Baking Soda as Deodorizer
When left on baking sheets and pans, grease can permeate silicone-based items and leave difficult to remove smells behind. When this happens, Peterson says baking soda can deodorize almost anything, especially grease. "Create a paste using equal parts baking soda and water," she explains. "Rub the paste all over the product and allow it to sit overnight. Gently scrub the paste off the next morning." If the smell lingers in the morning, Peterson says to repeat the process until it's gone. It's important to note that baking soda should only be used to clean silicone kitchenware if recommended by the manufacturer. "Quality varies among silicone kitchen products, and lower quality products may not stand up to more rigorous cleaning," says Gagliardi.